Public-private partnerships deals under Merkel have become big issue as parties debate how best to renew infrastructure

Germany’s autobahn has for decades served as a monument to the country’s proud history of planning and engineering, its “grey track, white stripes, green edge” memorialised in song by Kraftwerk and dotted with roadside churches where Catholics and Protestants can pray to the hum of freewheeling traffic.

But on the eve of Germany’s federal elections the motorway has become a stage where the country’s reputation for efficiency and fiscal prudence is being severely tested.

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